By Andrew Coakley
Bahamas Information Services
FREEPORT, GB – A small junkanoo group, leaders from all sporting bodies on Grand Bahama and a few youth leaders, all showed up at the airport on Friday afternoon to welcome back the newly appointed Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Iram Lewis.
Minister Lewis left Grand Bahama as Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction and returned as the new Minister of Sports. He took over the post, after former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mrs. Lanisha Rolle resigned her post earlier this week. Minister Lewis had to demit his office as Minister of State for Preparedness, Management and Reconstructed.
“It’s a new challenge ahead, but I believe that I’m up to the challenge,” Minister Lewis said, while speaking to the media on Friday following his arrival. “I realize that this is not about me, but about what I can really bring to the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture.
“This has given me another opportunity to serve at another level. My first step would be to try and get my bearing to figure out where we are within the Ministry (of youth, sports and culture) and once I’m fully acclimated I will look at the programs that exist and we will see how we can stay on course, or pivot in some areas where necessary. The main thing is that at the end of the day, we maximize all of our potential.”
Asked if he felt that his appointment came a little too late in order for him to make any substantial change within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Minister Lewis said it’s never too late. Adding that once it is not over and the finish line has not been crossed, it is never too late.
Drawing reference to his time as an athlete when he competed in the Bahamas Games in 1995, Minister Lewis noted that during one of his track races, with some 95 meters still left in the race, he was not in first place, but he continued to push.
“At the end of the day, I won that race on behalf of Grand Bahama,” said Minister Lewis.
“So, I understand that as an athlete, you have to stay focused, as an architect, you plan properly and you carry out your plan. So, in my view, people may think it’s late in the game, but I don’t think so. In some instances, you have a game that is tied or a team may be down by two, but one three-pointer and you can still win the game.
“I think that we still have time to do what needs to be done to ensure that this Ministry makes a positive impact throughout the entire Bahamas.”
Touching on a subject that had arisen some time back, but which faded away over time, Minister Lewis was asked about plans to bring back the Bahamas Games.
“We have to continue to find avenues that would help this country to continue to unite and bring this country together,” he said. “As we know things like sports and culture are common and they bring a whole nation together.
“I was fortunate enough to be a part of that first Bahamas Games and I still remember the camaraderie among the athletes and coaches from the different islands. We made friends and those friendships have lasted even up to today.
“So, I understand how important sports is to uniting an entire nation. Sports and culture are very powerful avenues to bring about a healing.”
As far as the youth fo the nation are concerned, Minister Lewis spoke specifically to the young of the Bahamas, many of whom are being lost senselessly to crime and violence. He noted that several programs will be put in place that would deal with conflict resolution, discipline and focus.
He said individuals like Darren Rolle, Bonnie Basden and other such youth leaders will be sought out to tap into their experiences and skills in order to help the young people of the Bahamas. The Minister said that it will be important to engage the youth in the country in an effort to get their perspective on the situations they face in their lives on a daily basis.
“There’s a saying that says ‘look not where you fall, but look at what caused you to fall’,” said Minister Lewis. “We have to get to the root cause of why our young men act the way they do and why they are unable to resolve conflicts.
“Once we determine that, we could set out course and put in place better programs that would help with better conflict resolutions.”
Asked how he felt about the small band of merry makers and sporting reps, Minister Lewis said it was all unexpected. “But it’s very humbling,” he added.